MMS News February, 2013





News and Reminders:

Friday, February 8th: Deadline for in-house registration for 2013-2014.

Monday February 18th: School Closed for President's Day.  We are open from February 19th- 22nd.

Thursday, February 21st: Staff Meeting, 12:30pm-1:30pm.  Children who are dismissed at 12:30 and 1:30 are dismissed at 12:25 on this day. 

February 28th and March 1st: Parent Participation Days.  Parents are invited to spend 1 hour in the classroom with their children.  Class schedules follow a regular day.  Please see your classroom blogs for pertinent information for your child's classroom schedule.

So how do we make sure our children have 'grit' experiences?

Towards the end of January we had a workshop based on "How Children Succeed" by Paul Tough.  I have recommended everyone to read this book and I will take the opportunity now to say it again.  It is a powerful book.  You should read it.  

I noticed at the workshop that Paul Tough's book raises more questions than it answers.  While our workshop group responded with frustration to the more questions asked than answered, that very idea might be something we could all use considering.  

It is increasingly the culture today to think that if one is very well informed, one holds the power in the outcomes of one's life.  In many ways, there is a lot of truth to that premise.  The better infomred one is, the better one can assess the choices one has.  But maybe that thinking glosses over, that in the end, you only have the choices that you have.  Knowledge or "informedness" does not give you access to every choice that you might like.  Life or circumstance ultimately holds the power of what choices are available to you.  And many of us don't like that.  

I thought about this at the workshop when a few parents expressed dissatisfaction with the questions raised by the book  and what they perceived as the 'lack' of answers.  I understood that and I was one of the people making that comment that evening.  In the last week, I have pondered, "Why do I assume that asking a question means that there is answer that can be given?  What do I want from having an answer provided to me?"

As parents, it is very easy to justify that we want parenting answers because we want to get it right!  We are conscientious and want to raise smart, well prepared, educated, resourceful, insightful, multi-talented, creative, extroverted children who know that they have choices.  We are very concerned with getting it "right"-which means that there is a "right" way to do it.     So who knows the "right" way? 

In my opinion, no one.  What is "right' for you as a parent, "right" for your child is dependent on so many factors, that there is no "right."  Hence, the book, asking so many questions and not answering so many.  The answer to thinking about raising your children in a purposeful, attuned way has to be determined by you, any other adults who make parenting decisions with you, and your child.  In order to have an attuned relationship with your child, you will have to ask yourself a lot of questions and often it will take a long time to have answer that you feel positively (or even sure) about.  This is where information can support your parenting.  If information helps you tease apart the questions that help you connect to your child, then information is good to have. If information helps you make a long list of experiences that your child MUST have, then it has separated you from your child and it is not supporting your family.  Well, there now, I gave you an answer anyway.......

After the workshop on 1/24, I wrote up the notes from our workshop.  I'm sharing them below in the hopes that they will start you thinking and asking....




Summary from “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough workshop on 1/24/2013


We reviewed sections of book that were meaningful to folks:


-the meaning of grit

-how attachment affects a child’s resilience

-rebounding after failure

-strategies to be optimistic

            long term motivation versus short term reward

                        KIPP phrases versus the reason for long term buy in

-the importance of the marshmallow experiment-

            how do those results influence how we view rewards with children?

            Do all children need the same type of reward?

            Do all parents believe in them?


-many children say, “I can’t”.  How do you counter that as a parent?


                        -don’t rush to do it for your child


Do we support failure? Do we support our children failing sometimes?

Are we afraid of our children’s failure?  Are we thinking about that as a function of us?  Is there too much investment in our children’s success as a reflection of our own egos?


Frank conversations:  How do you have them?


Do you have to structure a gritty experience or do you notice when life is offering one and respect it as such?


What is the difference between parental indifference to a child’s request and letting your child figure it out?


Assess and set realistic goals for yourself as a parent.  We cannot be all things at all times.  Decide where you will allow for grit in your children’s lives and where you need to intervene.


Below are my editorials (as in not from our discussion, more my response to my notes)


1.     Think about attachment as a mediating factor for children from otherwise horrendous childhoods and the insulation that provided.  How can we stay attached to our children, while allowing grit to be in their lives?

2.     Think about the frank approach of the chess teacher.  Then think about her step-by-step analysis with the children to develop a strategy for future success.  How can we bring that into our parenting?

3.      Seeing your child clearly and responding to that.  I often remind myself, this is the child I have, maybe not the one I ‘planned’ on having. 


This month's book recommendation....

"The Minds of Boys" By Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens.  Since I recommended a book about girls a few months ago, it is only fitting to get a boys book in here too.  I am on chapter 3 and completely hooked!


Be well!